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Berliner Zeitung Hails Alan Gilbert’s ‘Direct, Forward’ Conducting of Berlin Philharmonic

Alan Gilbert Berlin Philharmonic

Alan's back from Germany! Read all about it:

After launching the season with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, at its Leipzig home and on a tour of European music capitals and festivals, Music Director Alan Gilbert returned to Germany in mid-November to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, and Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra.

On November 21–23, Alan led the Berlin Philharmonic in a program of Bach's Cantata Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid BWV 58, Mendelssohn's "Scottish" Symphony, and Nielsen's Symphony No. 3, Sinfonia expansiva. Watch the concert (trailer free; subscribe for full access).

  • Berliner Zeitung said, "Gilbert's conducting is of great physical presence … very direct, muscular and dynamically forward. ... [O]ne can hear a distinctive musical instinct ... a natural force, that has become rare in our times of overbred musical culture…"
  • Inforadio Berlin praised Gilbert's "great virtuosity of musical colors."

On November 10–13, Alan conducted the Munich Philharmonic in a program of Beethoven's Symphony No. 1, Debussy's Images, and Respighi's Fountains of Rome. 

  • Süddeutsche Zeitung noted Gilbert's "fabulous, touchable music-making."
  • Münchner Merkur praised the "steadily growing tension" in the Beethoven and the "athmospheric woodwinds" in the Respighi and Debussy.

In Hamburg on December 4 and 7 and Lübeck on December 5, Gilbert led the NDR Symphony in the world premiere of Thierry Escaich's Concerto for Violin, Oboe, and Orchestra, featuring New York Philharmonic Artist-in-Residence Lisa Batiashvili and oboist Francois Leleux, and Thomas Adès's Three Studies from Couperin and Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique. Escaich's concerto is a co-commission by the NDR and the New York Philharmonic and receives its US premiere in April at Avery Fisher Hall.

  • Hamburger Abendblatt said of Gilbert, “Only a few conductors are so unencumbered by ego and so efficient,” adding that “the orchestra thanked him for his inspiring presence with enormous vitality in sound.”
  • Lübecker Nachrichten reported that the Dec. 5 concert contained "waves of euphony," adding, "everything was just right."

Munich Critics Hail Alan Gilbert's Bruckner

Alan Gilbert in Munich 

Alan Gilbert's Munich Philharmonic concerts October 31–November 3 bolstered his reputation as a "consistently involving and insightful" (The New York Times) interpreter of Bruckner.

The concerts closed with that composer's Symphony No. 4, Romantic. The Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote:

"[Gilbert] lent a monstrous supernatural quality to the romantic search for transcendence through a smoldering pianissimo in the first violins and a threateningly stoic timpani roll. He shaped the distinctive horn motif in the Scherzo with a strict tempo and cool expression, while the circular string melody at the beginning of the finale sparkled with an understated endlessness. An evening as suspenseful as it was profound."

The Munich Abendzeitung said:

"Gilbert took a risk by countering the traditional serene style with which this composer is predominantly treated in Munich performances ... aiming in many ways to reach just the opposite: a billowing and forceful music full of life, performed with a tonal selectivity. Gilbert possesses an innate sensibility for crescendos and nuances. He is a remarkable conductor of Bruckner: he has something to say."

Alan Gilbert Back in Germany for Dates in Munich, Hamburg

Alan Gilbert 

Music Director Alan Gilbert is back in Germany. He arrived in Munich on Monday, and he's been rehearsing with the Munich Philharmonic for concerts October 31–November 3. After that, he heads to Hamburg to lead the NDR Symphony November 7–10.

Gilbert led the Berlin Philharmonic September 12–14 in a program of Lutosławski, Janáček, and Bartók. In its review, the Berliner Zeitung wrote:

“The precision of Gilbert’s interpretation as he negotiates moments within the piece as a whole, along with the extent to which he brings out the true essence of the work, is truly impressive. ... The audience, thrilled by the performance, continued to applaud the conductor even as the musicians had already begun to pack up their instruments backstage.”

The Berliner Morgenpost said:

“Guest conducting the Berlin Philharmonic can be such a pleasure, with the approval of the orchestra, that is — and they approve of Alan Gilbert. The musicians trust him completely, and give him total liberty over the work.... [T]he sound that emerges from the expert orchestra is most impressive.”

The Munich concerts feature a program of Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3, with Yefim Bronfman, The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence. Gilbert and Bronfman will perform the concerto in June, during The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival.

"I love conducting in Munich!" Gilbert said:

"There’s something so focused about the way the audience treats the whole musical experience. It’s a special place to perform, and to be able to do Bruckner with the Munich Philharmonic, an orchestra that has done so many wonderful Bruckner performances with, among others, Mehta, Celibidache and Levine, is something I’m looking forward to enormously. This is the second time I’m conducting the orchestra. Our first time together had such a special chemistry that it’s a real shame it has taken so long to have the chance to perform together again."

The Hamburg program consists of Dvorák's Violin Concerto (with Frank Peter Zimmermann) and Gilbert's A Ring Journey, his arrangement, after Erich Leinsdorf, of music by Wagner.

(Photo: Alan Gilbert conducts the Berlin Philharmonic, September 2013, by dpa)

Zurich, Munich, and Essen

Three concerts in three days makes for a lot of travel — and music! Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic team up with violinist Joshua Bell in Zurich and Munich, and reunite with The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence Emanuel Ax in Essen.
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